Binge-worthy 1990s TV Series to spend the winter with As the time for staying in because of the cold is upon us, stock up on your junk food and visit Amazon to get your last doses of some of the most addictive 1990s serial television shows out there. ...

Music reviews from the pages of Think Magazine
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The Album (Sony Music)

Like it's predecessor the 'Judgement Night' soundtrack, the fusion of guitar music from metal and alternative rock bands with some of the biggest producers of contemporary dance styles makes for some raised eyebrows, and heady psychedelia intermittently. In a weird way, it feels as though, if all the edges were polished I'd be listening to the first Gary Numan Tubeway Army record, and that is no bad thing.

Some of the more interesting combinations had Marilyn Manson accepting a union with Sneaker Pimps, and the Butthole Surfers grooving out with Moby. Some combinations feel as if one party dominated the other in the studio like the Manson/808 State track (sadly the State lost), and although the track is deeply strange and brilliant, I couldn't help feeling that Soul Coughing could have pushed Roni Size into a little less familiar territory.

Henry Rollins and Goldie was in full swing, but the combination of Incubus and DJ Greyboy was like listening to a digitalized version of a David Sylvian record, cool. This CD is an adventure. - Keith Kirchner

Marshmellow (Casseopaya Recordings)

Recipe for sending a dance floor mad: Take one heavy-duty 4/4 rhythm, add a hip-grindingly funky bass-line, stir in a quirky little animal noise at the end of each paragraph and a breathe-takingly searing mid-frequency breakdown, sprinkle on top a pinch of acid and cook for about eight minutes at 33 1/3 r.p.m. Best served very loud. Fatter than a lard-arse on a fried cheese binge. - Chris Sadler

Crossroads (Novamute Records)

Rumour has it that the aforementioned blunted boy wonder is, in fact, Proper Records head-honcho and regular contributor for Sm:)e communications - Steve Stoll (a.k.a. the bloke that was billed to head-line the Proper tour that recently visited Radost FX). I don't know about that and frankly, I don't much care.

What is important is this record which contain 5 tracks (which, it should be said, is a bargain by today's standards), 4 of which are fairly unastounding techno - you know, the sort of thing synthetic burps and belches over a clattering rhythm.

What does make this an interesting release is "Metropolis" hidden as the second track on the B-side. There is nothing glaringly obvious about this tune which is probably part of the allure, rather, a combination of a driving kick-drum, a crisp cymbal and double-time bell and a wonderfully twangy (if indeed that is a word) bass make for a tidy little builder. - Chris Sadler

Dots and Loops (Warner/Electra)

Why do I love this record? Because of the fat xylophonic waves that blow air up my skirt exposing me, or for those greasy, controlled Curtis Mayfield style guitar strokes, or the lightly chirping hammond organs burping me like a baby, or those capricious mantras bent on creating some kind of savoir faire in all of us, or is it just those peppy tempos?

No, it's the names of the songs themselves 'The Flower Called Nowhere", "Refractions in the Plastic Pulse", "Ticker Tape of the Unconscious", and other fun stuff. Easy to play, but difficult to master.

My housemate thinks they should call it 'Bells and whistles." - Keith Kirchner

Raw Power (Sony Recordings)

Commercial Sell-out alert! I remember seeing Apollo 440 at Tribal Gathering about 4 years ago and they were way cool. I also remember hearing their single of some time ago -"Liquid Cool" and thinking 'yeah'. Since then though they have adopted the tried and tested Prodigy route to success.

Throw in some thrashing guitar riffery, some half sung, half shouted vocals and suddenly you've doubled your audience. I mean, "Rockers to rockers, ravers to ravers", what's all that about? Little surprise then that I think this record is mostly a sack of arse.

I say mostly though, because their saving grace is to include a jungle mix courtesy of Urban Takeover that, to put it bluntly, rocks. Featuring Ragga vocal samples and a tearing bass, this would not sound out of place played alongside something like "Super Sharp Shooter" or any of the really ruff jump-up stuff. Choon! - Chris Sadler

Red Fever (Noom UK Records)

Prime-time air-pounding stuff from the profile Chris Liberator although not the screaming acid-trance that anyone familiar with his name might expect. This time the weapon of destruction is the metallic synth which starts out deceptively sedate, lulling you into a false sense of security.

Then things start getting out of hand.

The tune breaks down, rising up again with the synth building and building before being unleashed. Just when you've got used to this state of affairs and are going suitably potty on the dance floor, the percussion stops again. Inevitably this is merely a device by which to prolong anticipation before things get really out of hand and the tune goes completely apeshit. - Chris Sadler

Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space (Dedicated/BMG)

The latest offering from Britain's ambient rock kings is seventy minutes of subtle sonic mayhem. Beautiful jams, with a string and horn section driving the guitar feedback, and drums rolls into oblivion.

Often an entire piece is like the end of a 70's rock band's encore jam, making you wonder what the song that preceded it would have sounded like.

Sonic Boom's outfit has influences from sources as varied as the Beatles and Laurie Anderson to Sonic Youth, but always appear to have stumbled on this territory in their own bare feet in the park sort of way.

Fine wine indeed. - Keith Kirchner

The Art of War (Ruthless Records)

I used to think these guys were totally whack, like Boys II rappers, and that ill barbershop quartet thing... rother. Then I saw that their new disc was called the Art of War and that it was a double CD and got more stressed.

I couldn't have been more wrong, this is one of the better rap records to roll out this summer, and we may have found an air apparent to 2PAC in his '2pacalypse now' phase, which is not to say they're looking for a bullet.

This shit is like piano-driven funk with bad ass rhythms, punctuated by Queen-like rapped interludes that, somehow, wax poetic. It fun to be wrong sometimes, where did these guys come from? - Keith Kirchner

Extra Virgin (BMG)

This is trip-hop, no problem right? I mean I don't like to label things but if you have a clue about it, this is the genre. And it's damn good as well. After about three listens I was hooked on the flow, and with a reverb junkie's glaze when s/he gets what s/he wants, I just let the soul flow over me.

If Mazzy Star lived in Portsmouth, you could say.

A cloudy, Sunday afternoon sex record, because we all need to close that space after the party's over. Why are weekends only two days? If you can, find the limited edition featuring a remixed version by Monkey Mafia, Paul Oakenfold, and Roni Size, click your heels twice, and stay home on Monday. - Keith Kirchner

Wu-Tang Forever (BMG)

This long awaited Wu release booms out of the box on the first three tracks, dropping science or some kind of wisdom over some of the hardest beats to bust out this year. They are still telling stories about how they are not role models, and other funky ruminations about how stoic the crew has to be in these last days and times.

The end of the first disc is a little slow, but the second is more groove oriented, and less coherent in its world view. Method Man and Genius still do it for me, but all the fellas get their chance to recall what life was like before they had VCR's. Sometimes it's absolutely brilliant, and for one record it would've been classic.

Still well worth the trip. - Keith Kirchner

Lost Highway Soundtrack (BMG)

It's quiet night in Žižkov. I am waiting here for you. I want to sing for you. Suddenly the bell is ringing, you are walking up the stairs and I put the music on: "I want you/you're the perfect drug/the perfect drug/ the perfect drug…".

Come inside baby, step into the darkness where all you can hear is my deep voice: "This magic moment/so different/so new/when your lips are close to mine/will last forever…".

I'm dancing around the room with my eyes wide open and I smile at you. You catch me by my hair, pull me close, your finger travelling on my lips, spreading the red all over my face. I hear you whispering: "I want you Renee".

Now I see myself lying on the carpet and hear your deep voice screaming: "Heirate mich/heirate mich!". And I begin to laugh hysterically, tears crawling all over my red face and I can't stop…Great music for my first date. - Petra Matušinová

Lighthouse Pulse (Sony Music)

Una tequila, por favor! Yes, this is the perfect music for driving round Costa del Sol, smoking weed and drinking tequila. Since I've been back in the Czech lands for some time, I can imagine doing exactly the same here.

As this is a mix of mostly happy groovy tunes, it's also good for a party at your house.

If you live in Žižkov, leave all the windows open for the Gypsies in front of your house to party too. And that's what I'll do next time I have a party at my place. Will make all my buddies come, bring tequila, smoke them up and make them dance to Josh Wink's "Are you there?".

Then I'll sing along with Tori Amos and dance with my new Gypsies friends. Cause music takes me high. - Petra Matušinová

Now Wash Your Hands (Mute Distribution)

You don't need guns when you're pissed off. All you need is musical instruments, just like these guys. Their hard-core punk rock cake is made up with piano, sax and violin and the final result tastes spicy.

Delicious when served in a tiny club where the dance-floor is as small as the stage and your head happens to be almost inside the speakers.

Don't forget to wear big army boots, otherwise you're fucked. I also recommend this CD for early afternoons, when you accidentally skip school and have access to dad's stereo which is the size of a truck. Then it's the best. - Petra Matušinová

Sonic Empire (BMG)

Alien sounds of Mayday all the way through my head, like an unstoppable machine. It's definitely not the right music for an afternoon tea with your grandparents, unless they came from a different planet.

I enjoyed listening to this compilation in the middle of a deep night while surfing on the net and it took me some time to figure out why I like it as much as I do.

Whenever I return home from dancing and partying all night, I feel like staying up for some more hours, listening to some good music and watching the sun rising up the sky. Mayday and tea, oh yes. - Petra Matušinová

Hell on Earth (Loud Records)

On this Mobb Deep album, there is little of the remorse for the sins of street life that tempered their previous LP, The Infamous. Quoted below, from the first track, this chorus gives way to the unrepentant violence of the rest of the record, which gives you more of that "thug shit" (the Mobb hopes) you can't get enough of. Self-proclaimed pioneers of "this violent nigga rap shit," Havoc and Prodigy redefine rap as "Bloodsport" in their hunger to shine within the criminal cosmology of the streets.

"I'm tired of living life this way / Crime pay, but for how long / Until you reach your downfall?" - Animal Instinct

Hav, who P gives love "for stepping up with the beats," has gained a reputation as a producer with the tracks he did on fellow Queensbridge native Nas' newest LP. The whole album is in fact produced by the Mobb. There is little clutter in their collage of pretty samples and bleeding bass frequencies, though sometimes the loops can get monotonous. Morose pianos, moody synthesizer chords and bizarre strings convey menace, madness and melancholy. Staccato bass notes thunder underneath hyper kicks and gunshot snares; and odd noises like a ship creaking or a storm of bullets add to the cinematic feel of the songs.

Depicting six million ways to die in graphic detail, not one verse deviates from the criminal-minded rap trend. On the title track, "Hell on Earth," Prodigy snaps, "F*ck rap- Im trying to make cream and thats that! / Four mics onstage...or...four-pounds [.45 handguns]/ Speakers leaking out sound / Or niggas leaking on the ground / I could truly care less..." .

Yet even these lines reveal P's mastery of the double entendre, which transforms shootouts, robbery, drug trafficking and murder into epic saga through brilliant metaphors. Havoc's storytelling, in songs like "More Trife Life," a sequel which warns against sexual set-ups, has improved tremendously- he gets the "Most Improved MC of the Year" award for 96.

Although, as another Queens rapper Q-Tip notes, MC's "ain't prophets," Hav and P make few attempts to look past their ill condition. Photographic flows, fly new slang, and guest appearances- three guesses as to who - are undermined by tired fantasies of robbing Filipino dealers and "politickin" with Cubans (as if the only international activity for non-Whites must be criminal!) "Nighttime vultures" roaming the street during late night hours when it's not safe to be out, or confused cats who need a hit of courage and bravado will love it but, a tad bit deficient in variety of sentiment, sound and substance, the album might lose its appeal over time for many. - Gregory L. Johnson, Jr.

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